1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How do you explain the . in laymen words (i.e. in the unit N.s)?

  1. Oct 5, 2008 #1

    I really want to know how to explain the . (i.e. in the unit N.m) to a person not expert to physics?

    As for the / (for example in the unit m/s) I can explain to one, that it is the rate or the value of the speed/velocity for every single unit of time, in this case second.

    Hope this question can be understood.
    Thanks a lot!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2008 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to PF.

    The / is the division sign, the . is the multiplication sign. There really isn't anything to explain beyond that. You can't generalize a / as a rate becaue that's not all it is used for. Consider: lb/in^2.
  4. Oct 5, 2008 #3
    Thanks, well, all this time surfing, just the last month I found this forum for things related to physics.

    So by that you mean nothing could be said to explain what the multiplication sign in Force.space or its unit (i.e. Newton.meter) is all about? Thanks.
  5. Oct 5, 2008 #4


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Why not explain Nm as the unit for F.d which is work or energy used up?

    That should make sense that if you don't use force, you don't use energy, and that the greater the distance you push something the greater the work done. (If they ask more, there's the troublesome details that it must be in the direction of the distance, and also that you can use up a lot of energy pushing things no where and you get no work done - but I'm sure anyone who's a boss will understand that;)
  6. Oct 5, 2008 #5
    Thanks! That would help me. Any other way to explain, anyone?
  7. Oct 6, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    How about units for area?

    The area of a rectangle is length.width ( remember "." is multiplication here)

    Length could be measured in meters, width could be measured in meters also. So the units of area become m.m, or m2 (what we call "square meters").
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook